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THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

Flex Appeal

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A new crop of running shoes takes a stiffer approach to performance.

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RUNNING INSIGHT

Bending the Rules On Cloud Flash: On’s fastest racer has a stiff “speedboard” at its core, creating what Illmarin Heitz, head of footwear, calls, “Almost an upper on a blade. A track shoe for the road.”

Flexibility has always been valued in running shoes. Could stiff soles be better? / By Jonathan Beverly

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lexibility has long been considered a virtue in running shoes. A 1979 Consumer Guide to running shoes states, “Flexibility: This is one of the more important factors in judging a shoe. Many injuries are caused by shoes that are too stiff. Unless the sole bends easily, your foot will suffer. Bend the shoe back and forth to test its pliability. The foresole must flex.” Nearly 40 years later, this conventional wisdom persists. Runners still take a shoe

off the wall and test how easily they can bend the toe up. Magazines report flexibility scores based on a similar mechanical test. Flexibility as a virtue was bolstered by the minimalist movement, which argued that a shoe should allow the foot to move and react naturally. Even post-minimalism, the only reason most select a less-flexible shoe is as a compromise for additional cushioning and control. Lately, however, running shoes have trended increasingly less flexible, even those

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2018 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.

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designed for high performance. Brands are playing with various foams, thicknesses, flex grooves, rubber compounds and plates in attempts to increase responsiveness. The pinnacle of this movement so far comes in the form of the Nike Vapor Fly 4% racing flat, which incorporates a carbon fiber plate that barely bends at all. In light of this groundbreaking shoe, how should the runner feel about flexibility? Simon Bartold, biomechanist and Salomon shoe consultant, points out that research

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RUNNING INSIGHT

Bending the Rules (continued)

Nike Vapor Fly 4%: Nike’s disruptive racing flat is challenging how designers, manufacturers, retailers and runners think about shoe stiffness and performance.

dating as far back as 2000 has demonstrated that you can improve speed and economy by increasing forefoot stiffness —to a point. Past that point and performance falls off rather than improves. In the past 20 years, however, no one has been able to fully exploit this feature. A Tuned Ride

“The problem has been, no one really seems to know where that vanishing point is,” Bartold says. “The reason for that is painfully obvious — there is no uniformity in athletes. So what works for you in terms of stiffness probably won’t work for me. That’s 4

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the problem.” In building the Vapor Fly 4%, Nike reduced the scope of this problem by designing for a specific group of elite athletes. “It is easy to produce ideal situations for athletes in a very small weight range,” says Jay Dicharry, director of the REP Biomechanics Lab in Bend, OR. The “spring” in the Nike shoes, Dicharry says, is tuned for runners with similar weight, contact times, limb stiffness and pace. Ernest Kim, footwear innovation director at Nike, confirms that plates require greater tuning than foams. “What we’ve seen, from foam perspective, is that

there seems to be a very wide range of tolerance,” Kim says. “Where there does seem to be quite a bit more subject specificity is when you start to introduce things like plates and plate stiffnesses.” What that means is that unless you weigh 123 pounds, your marathon pace is 4:40/mile and you have similar mechanics as Eliud Kipchoge, the Vapor Fly won’t necessarily produce the same effect. It may even feel clunky. “The stride of an elite runner is so much different than a stride of even a really talented recreational runner,” says Geoff Gray, president of the Heeluxe biomechanics

“There is no uniformity in athletes. So what works for you in terms of stiffness probably won’t work for me. That’s the problem.” SIMON BARTOLD, BIOMECHANIST AND SALOMON SHOE CONSULTANT

lab. “Forces, ground contact time, consistency — there’s a lot of stuff that changes with a higher level runner.” Online shoe reviewer The Ginger Runner called the Zoom Fly, which features a similar © 2018 Diversified Communications


RUNNING INSIGHT

Bending the Rules (continued)

Hoka One One Clifton 4: Thick soles with rocker bottoms, such as on Hoka’s Clifton 4, don’t flex in the traditional way, but that doesn’t make the shoes slow, supportive and clunky.

propulsion plate, “One of the stiffest, most uncomfortable rides in a long time.” Your mileage may vary. Many find the ride smooth and fast. But it isn’t going to work for all, probably only for a select few.

“Where there does seem to be quite a bit more subject specificity is when you start to introduce things like plates, and plate stiffnesses.”

Two Curves

ERNEST KIM, FOOTWEAR INNOVATION DIRECTOR AT NIKE

The extreme of the Vapor Fly 4% aside (few people can obtain or afford it anyway), should we start to think differently about flexibility? Should fitter, faster runners be looking for stiffer shoes? Not necessarily. Bar told explains that shoe stiffness for stability and protection – how we’ve traditionally considered it – is a completely different application than stiffness for performance. “There is a reasonably strong argument to say that very highlytrained, quite light athletes need more viscous materials, and chubbier, less-trained athletes need stiffer materials,” he says. “Which is contrary to the discussion about, and completely different to, the discussion about MPJ [ball of the foot] stiffness, which is about power generation.” When it comes to performance, Bartold points out that a runner’s needs differ in different situations. He says if you’re looking for pop during faster, shorter, engaged running, choose something that’s got a little bit more stiffness, because you’ll generate more power. “If you’re looking for something that is going to allow you run all day, you definitely don’t want that,” Bartold says. “You’re needing something that offers more flexibility.” Everything Matters

Confusing the issue is the fact that cushioning, rebound, 6

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geometry and flexibility all interact and change how a shoe performs. This is true with the combined effects of the Vapor Fly’s soft rebound foam and carbon plate, as well as with a traditional foam midsole, rubber outsole and flex grooves. “The reality is,” Dicharry says, “you can’t separate these things out. All you know is everything.” You also can’t reliably assess flexibility by reading lab numbers or bending a shoe in your hands. “A shoe performs really differently on our body than when we hold it in our hands and flexing it, or a machine is flexing it,” says Gray. Innovative, adaptive materials have changed the rules on what we think we know. “With new materials, we have more ways of separating out different properties,” says Spencer White, VP of Saucony’s Human Performance & Innovation Lab. New bouncy materials, for example, are both compliant and responsive, so a designer might be able to play with flexibility without impacting cushioning or pop. A thick shoe may appear stiff but still allow for toe flexion by sinking in under the ball of your weighted forefoot. Then there is geometry. Light materials have provided the ability to create thick, rockerbottomed soles that allow for forward-rolling motion of the © 2018 Diversified Communications


RUNNING INSIGHT

Bending the Rules (continued)

Brooks Levitate: The Levitate, in Brook’s Energize quadrant, uses arrow-point flex grooves that allow less flex than straight lines, instead stretching and bouncing back to create a more responsive feel.

foot without much traditional flexibility in the sole. Opinions differ on how rocker soles might alter the stride, but all agree they can work well, particularly for those with less foot mobility and stability — which is the majority. “The reason the rocker came into being was to make for a smooth ride and transition rather than a lever,” says Zack Paris, associate product line manager at Hoka. While Paris maintains the foot does still flex and engage some in a Hoka, he argues, “The primary mover of the body in motion is not the windlass mechanism or tendons on the bottom of the foot. Mmaximum power output becomes less of the primary feature as soon as you move beyond sprint distances.” Hoka plays with the location and angles of its rockers to complement different strides and paces 8

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— somewhat like others use flexibility, although the correlation is not exact. Kurt Stockbridge, footwear development VP at Skechers Performance, also distinguishes between the simple force needed to flex and how and where the shoe flexes. “The top surface [of the sole] along the foot, that is going to work with our foot and should flex and bend with the foot on that side,” Stockbridge says. “But on the bottom surface, you want it to flex in a very smooth way, in a gradual curve, a nice bow.” This affects where you want flex grooves and where in the sole a plate might be most effective — and further complicates the optimal flexibility question. All of this has an effect on shoe selection, but first note that of the hundreds of shoes in his

database, Gray says, “when we look at the isolated variable of flexibility, on body, we see very little difference in the majority of running shoes we see now. I think there are other factors that are more important in shoe selection.” Most shoes today will work for most runners when it comes to flexibility. To fine-tune the selection, however, the expert consensus seems to be that for training you want the most flexible shoe that your feet and stride can handle. A more flexible shoe will be the most comfortable and natural for most runners and will help to strengthen their feet and stride. “If you increase stiffness, you stop allowing the body from doing what the body wants to do,” says Golden Harper, cofounder of Altra. “If you want to avoid injury long-term, you want to err to the less-stiff side of the scale — if you have to err.” Experts from all quadrants, however, suggest you might want to steer runners to a stiffer shoe when it comes to performance. Be warned, however, “If you get flexibility wrong, you’re likely to contribute to injury,” Bartold says. The key is finding that point where the stiffness stops enhancing the propulsion of the foot and starts to alter the stride. Keonyoung Oh, biomechanics researcher who authored a study that examines this breaking point, suggests starting by running in a flexible shoe and advancing the stiffness until you detect a change in how your foot bends and pushes off. “Choose the stiffest shoe which does not disturb natural joint motion,” Oh advises. Lacking his expensive lab equipment, Oh suggests using

“A shoe performs really differently on our body than when we hold it in our hands and flexing it, or a machine is flexing it.” GEOFF GRAY, PRESIDENT OF THE HEELUXE BIOMECHANICS LAB

video to help assess stride changes. Given all that is going on inside a shoe and the individuality of foot mechanics, however, he agrees with others that the “comfort” filter, or personal perception of the ride, might be even more effective at determining the level at which shoe stiffness pushes the runner over the edge. A Final Test

A final test that provides a clue on whether a shoe is flexing properly is the sound filter. Bartold, Stockbridge and Heather Pieraldi, head of running footwear at Salomon, all suggest listening to the runner’s footfalls. “Is it loud or is it quiet?” Pieraldi says. “There may be a few shoes that feel comfortable. The one that feels comfortable and is quietest is probably going to be the best.” “To some extent, stiffness has a bad rap,” says Nikhil Jain, senior manager at Brooks. As brands play with stiffness for performance, it expands the diversity of shoes runners can consider. “Most people have experience with either moderately flexible or very flexible shoes,” says Joe Rubio, owner of Running Warehouse. He suggests encouraging runners to explore less flexible models as well, be they thick rockers or tuned racers, or both. “Let them determine for themselves which experience they prefer for which type of running,” he says. n © 2018 Diversified Communications


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Brooks Running Rolls Out Shop-in-Shop Brand partners with top specialty running retailers to reinvigorate its apparel business.

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eaturing an “elevated store experience” that includes favorites from its collection of running apparel, Brooks Running is partnering with 30 specialty running retailers in the U.S. and Canada this summer to launch the brand’s premium shop-in-shop. Installation at the 30 pilot locations, which will feature an assortment of sports bras as well as tops, bottoms and jackets for men and women, was completed last month. Brooks plans to expand to more than 150 retail stores by the end of the year. “We are thrilled to partner with the best specialty running shops to bring our Brooks brand and apparel collection to life,” says Mike Billish, VP–U.S. sales for Brooks Running. “Our partners are leading the

way in creating connections with runners and we’re excited to bring them a new way to engage with their communities around apparel. “In addition to creating a unique experience on the retail floor, our shop-in-shop experience tells a compelling story about our brand and products which we believe will help reinvigorate the running apparel business.” The shop-in-shop installation is a threeyear partnership between Brooks and these selected retailers that includes four unique apparel and marketing stories each year designed to educate runners. In addition to the physical installation, the partnership includes an in-store launch event each season, Brooks digital marketing activations and

Brooks plans to expand its new shop-in-shop experience to more than 150 specialty running stores by the end of the year.

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© 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Brooks Running (continued) dedicated support from a local Brooks Guru. This premium brand experience is a way for Brooks to express its brand in a retail store environment and help retailers spotlight apparel as a key component of a runner’s gear assortment. “We are committed to growing our apparel and essentials business and to do so have been implementing thoughtful merchandising that establishes an energy center around our apparel — attracting customers in the same way they have always been attracted to our footwear fitting area,” says Keith Davis, owner of Fleet Feet Winston Salem. “The Brooks shop-in-shop has

become that energy center and so much more and the shop-inshop celebrates Brooks’ product stories and the brand’s Run Happy message in a way that complements our local merchandising strategy and branding,” he adds. “I have every expectation that this will help us return apparel to 20 percent of our total retail business.” Brooks initially offered two shop-in-shop options — a 12-by-17-foot execution as well as a 12-by-12-foot choice to fit a variety of store configurations. As the program expands, Brooks will continue to explore additional footprints to accommodate store needs. n

Brooks Running Releases FastTrack Mobile Application Following the successful launch of Brooks Running Company’s FastTrack desktop application, the company is releasing a mobile version that acts as a one-stop-shop for retailers to manage orders, check inventory and dropship directly to customers both inside and outside the physical retail store directly from a Smartphone. Available on Android and iOS, Brooks FastTrack mobile has already rolled out to nearly 1500 running specialty retailers across the country. Brooks FastTrack acts as an extended aisle for specialty running stores that have limited space to stock product. Within the application, store associates can manage the daily functions of their business, including planning and managing orders, checking inventory and accessing product information. In addition to these daily business functions, FastTrack makes it possible for stores to take their experience on the road. With FastTrack mobile, retailers have the flexibility to fit and sell product from anywhere they can bring their Smartphone.

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“We are thrilled by the positive feedback our FastTrack desktop application has received and are excited to offer our retail partners a mobile version that provides increased flexibility and more opportunity to connect with runners,” says VP–U.S. sales Mike Billish. “Specialty running retailers are experts at bringing the running community together. With FastTrack mobile, retailers will now have the opportunity to bring their unparalleled expertise and service directly to runners.” “The Brooks FastTrack mobile application has been a game changer for Charm City Run,” says Tom Mansfield, VP–retail business at Charm City Run. “We have the ability to bring our service and expertise directly to runners. This flexibility makes it possible for us to introduce our brand to runners in new ways and empowers us to fit, sell and drop-ship directly to the runner, making the entire experience seamless.” The mobile app began rolling out to retailers in the U.S. and Canada in early July and will roll out globally throughout the balance of 2018. For additional information: fasttrackhelp@ brooksrunning.com. n

© 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Retail on the Road Takes a Detour In need of clarity, the author changes course into Alabama and Tennessee. / By Tom Griffen

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ometimes, in the thick of a moment, it’s tough to enjoy the process that got you wherever you are. Which doesn’t mean you aren’t appreciating the nitty gritty, because maybe you are. Maybe even a lot. But for some reason, the future prize is casting a shadow on what needs to be done to earn it. When I crossed the half-way point of my walking trek across the USA, I grew increasingly troubled by this very predicament. No, I couldn’t yet smell the barn, but it suddenly seemed much more attainable, more real, than it had previously. With each step east of this invisible milestone, I was closer to the finish tape than the starting line. This detail messed with my head a bit. I began losing sight of what lay before me and I started mindlessly powering across the terrain rather than stopping to smell the roses. My mellow “take it all in” attitude was replaced with a “how far can I push myself?” mentality. I woke up earlier, rushed through my morning oatmeal, spent less time meditating and increased my daily average to 30-plus miles. Worst of all, I started relying on pricy (and often sketchy) hotels rather than campsites because it was easier to flop than it was to set up camp. And though I was acutely aware of my spiraling mindset, it took weeks before I was willing to face it. When I did, I realized I had lost control of my why. It was time for a reset. I needed a plan. This plan included a drastic route change. One that veered me off my original eastbound trajectory from Little Rock. It dropped me deeper south, across Mississippi and Alabama, then eventually swinging me north into eastern Tennessee and the Great Smokey Mountains. A handful of people warned me about places en route. “Don’t go there! Be careful in that place!” they said. But, as with most spots I’d been advised to avoid, I was instead greeted with tremendous hospitality. The stores I visited in this region reflected this overwhelmingly welcoming embrace. 14

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Fleet Feet Huntsville owners Suzanne Swift Taylor and Dink Taylor with author Tom Griffen (center).

Fleet Feet Sports, Huntsville, AL

My knock on the front door interrupted their morning round-up. Owners Dink and Suzanne Taylor introduced me to staffers. After fielding a few questions about my walk, I was led to the conference room — brightly painted, flat screen TV mounted on the wall and tuned to ESPN, a long wooden table covered with bagels and fixings, and some remaining handouts from an earlier meeting with the management team. “We’re getting ready to go on a 17 day vacation,” Suzanne said. “Those printouts list all the things happening while we are gone.” The page was completely full. Small font. Dink and Suzanne are lifetime runners. Dink’s earliest influence is his father. But it wasn’t until Dink and his buddies challenged the old man to a run that running became Dink’s thing, too. “We’d see my dad doing it every day and thought ‘we can do that’,” Dink said. “So one day we were like, ‘OK, let’s show him how to run’.”

Dink’s dad dropped the youngsters one by one. Until only Dink remained — holding on effortlessly. “Dink,” his dad said, “you need to start running.” So he did. Always on his own since his school didn’t have a team. He continued into adulthood, where he went up the ranks at Coca-Cola. But he always knew one day he’d do running, full-time. Somehow, some way. Suzanne is originally from Texas. Grew up in the oil and gas business and assumed her position in the family trade. She might still be there today had it not been for her brother’s fateful words. “He told me not to do it if I didn’t love it,” she said. “If this wasn’t my passion, I should find something else.” So she left. Eventually held a position as the general manager of the Houston Marathon. Dink and Suzanne both vividly recall the life-altering conversation they had in the car while coming home from a 50K in Arkansas. “We both decided it was time to go for it,” Dink said. Their pasts laid the © 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Retail on the Road (continued)

Above: Author Tom Griffen enjoying a Normatec session at Fleet Feet Huntsville. Below: Terra Running owners David and Brittany Durkin with Griffen.

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groundwork for a running retail future: they’d been integral in growing Alabama’s trail running community and founded the legendary Mountain Mist Trail Run (now in its 25th year). Suzanne knew specialty retail thanks to Jim Braden’s Fleet Feet stores in Houston and Dink learned customer service during his stints at Athletic Attic and First Place Athletics. “But from an entrepreneurial standpoint,” Suzanne said, “we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.” In June 2002, Tom Raynor, then-owner of Fleet Feet Sports, told Dink, “If you want to make a lot of money, you’re going into the wrong business.” Still, in January 2003, they officially opened. And though their Huntsville operation has always been about running, it’s also been about people. “We have a Cheers atmosphere,” Suzanne said. “All of our customers are Norms.” The store culture revolves around this mindset. “A relationship with the customer is what makes sales,” Dink said. These days they’ve got 35 employees making genuine connections, and a tried and true, three-fold philosophy to keep it top of mind. “First off, we encourage staff to participate in all we do, and we do a lot,” Dink said. “Second, we consistently preach what we believe in. And third, we ensure bonding time.” This bonding time often brings training groups to the Taylor house or utilizes one of Dink’s two beer pong tables to liven things up a bit. “Our staff and customers are our people, our family,” Suzanne said. “It’s our responsibility to care for them and make sure they have what they need. This is what a family does.”

I asked Dink and Suzanne what they did besides running. They just looked at each other. “This is the only thing I know,” Dink said. Suzanne said there’s no separation between their personal and professional lives. “Our upcoming vacation is a running vacation,” Suzanne said. “What you see is what you get.” Dink’s daily internet show, “Stuff Dink Says,” capitulates this authenticity. Viewers get a daily dose of Dink’s off-the-cuff charm, his stream-of-consciousness wit, all while learning a thing or two about his and Suzanne’s passion for running. Five-minutes before going live, I learned that I would be the day’s guest. Afterwards, Dink insisted I give their Normatec Recovery System a try. As I blissfully sat in the recliner, my legs compressed by pulsing pressure, staff members brought me coffee, snacks and a magazine to read. They stopped to chit chat and talk shop. One fellow even offered me a foot massage. I felt right at home. I felt like family. Terra Running Company, Cleveland, TN

Owners David and Brittany Durkin are doers. Risk takers. In 2015 they opened their first run specialty store in Blue Ridge, GA, a time when the industry was in freak-out mode. They relocated to Cleveland, TN, a quaint town that matched their criteria for viable market: number of people, no current run store, good climate and a community that supports activity. There they bought a historic building and morphed it into a modern, run specialty masterpiece. Natural light softens the interior and highlights exposed (original) brickwork. Casual classy at its best. © 2018 Diversified Communications


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RUNNING INSIGHT

Retail on the Road (continued)

Above: Newly opened Bear Brew Coffee connected to Terra Running Company. Below: 100-year old original wood floor in Terra’s new downtown space.

And did I mention the adjoining coffeehouse they built, too? That’s right, they did what so many other stores dream about — they connected an otherwise disparate business to their run shop. They didn’t know coffee, but they’re quickly learning that good retail is good retail. “Bear Brew Coffee is a roll of the dice,” Brittany said. “But we wanted to give the community another reason to start and end their runs from here.” And 18

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frankly, it’s the only show in town for quality espresso. Plus it’s just blocks away from Lee University and across an intersection from town hall. Though it’s only been open a short time, the anecdotal evidence is wildly promising. Interestingly, any awkward silences on the shoe floor or dips in browser energy are largely eliminated by the coffee shop vibe (and aroma) wafting into the run side of the building. “Everything looks and

feels better when there’s a certain level of activity,” David said. “And this infusion happens here all day long.” While we sipped our drinks in the cafe, their baked good vendor came in for a look at the new space, recently opened in May. His seamless movement from Bear Brew into Terra Running demonstrated what David and Brittany have strategized all along — draw in new customers with coffee, then get them thinking about moving their bodies. “Who knows, maybe someday they’ll know us as a coffeehouse with an adjoining running store, not the other way around?” Brittany said. David and Brittany are lifelong runners. Both are originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and met while working specialty at Running Wild (now closed). Neither of us are fast,” said Brittany. “We run for fun.” David ran his first marathon in 2000 while he was still in high school. “It looked difficult,” he said, “which also made it seem fun.” He’s also completed three Ironman triathlons. Brittany’s first marathon was in 2008. Disney. These days, making time for longer events is tricky. “The store takes precedent over personal races,” Brittany said. But even if there’s a schedule snafu, they make it work. Like the time when David had been avidly training for an event, only to find that, come race day, he needed to cover a shift at the store instead. Not wanting to waste all his training, he ran an after-hours double loop of a certified half-marathon course. “We called it the Terra Bear Marathon,” Brittany said. The Terra Bear, also known as Terra Ted, is the store’s unexpected

mascot that evolved from an early race logo. “It’s just a silhouette of a slow-running bear,” David said. “But perfect since so much can be done with it.” Customers are drawn to Terra Ted, so it only made sense to keep the theme with the cafe. The logo for Bear Brew — a bear paw print. Its palm in the shape of a coffee bean. Make no mistake, all of David and Brittany’s risks are calculated. “Before opening, we were inspired by stores doing good retail,” David said. “The likes of Pacers, Runner’s Edge, Run Flagstaff, Run Central and others.” They considered franchising but liked the freedom to do their own thing. “It was really important that we were our own boss,” Brittany said. But just like any risk, sometimes it’s a flop. “Still, we are willing to try even if failure is possible, David said. “That’s how we learn.” David believes that experiential retail is where it’s at. Fantastic service will always be necessary. He also suggests that the future will be more about selling less than more. “We can keep trying to find unique things people are willing to pay for, but the easier it gets to buy from home, the harder it’ll be for us,” he said. Hence the cafe. “The future will also come down to vendor partners,” he said. “Specialty run will respond to selling less stuff if supported by vendors who understand and value what we do.” We are always stronger as a community. And Terra Running is creating one of their own. Running and coffee. A match made in heaven. n © 2018 Diversified Communications


RUNNING INSIGHT

running shorts PHIT Passes House, Heads To Senate, In Possible significant Boon to Running Industry

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n a huge victor y for America’s health – and potentially for running retailers – the U.S. House of Representatives last week approved the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, which would allow the use of pretax savings accounts for physical activity-related expenses. Among those expenses would be race registration fees and other health-related costs such as gym memberships, fitness classes and personal trainers. PHIT has been a longtime priority of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and

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was included in a bipartisan package of Health Savings Account (HSA) reforms that passed in the House by a vote of 277–142. Now, the measure moves to the Senate for further consideration. “Today’s vote to pass the PHIT Act in the House of Representatives is a huge step forward,” says Tom Cove, SFIA president and CEO. “SFIA and the PHIT Coalition have worked tirelessly to educate members of Congress on this innovative approach to promoting sports and fitness to improve health. Though we have a lot of work to do before the bill becomes

law, we are very happy with this progress and grateful to our congressional champions for their leadership.” By allowing the use of pre-tax dollars to pay for expenses such as youth sports fees and health club dues, PHIT effectively gives consumers a 22–37 percent discount on activity costs. PHIT will help families with various activity costs, including pay-to-play in schools, organized team sports, individual activities, camps, clinics, classes, tournaments and qualified equipment. The PHIT Act has been a centerpiece of SFIA’s effort to

increase activity in America, following SFIA’s success in securing over $1 billion in dedicated Physical Education funding for schools via the PEP Program. The most likely timeframe for the Senate to consider the PHIT Act is November/December 2018. U.S. Road Race Numbers Steady

An analysis of road race participation trends in the U.S. recently released by Running USA shows some mixed trends for the running business, with participation holding steady for most forms in 2017. Overall,

© 2018 Diversified Communications


RUNNING INSIGHT

running shorts (continued) the number of people registering for U.S. road races in 2017 compared to the previous year declined slightly, by less than one percent, according to data compiled by Running USA with the help of a consortium of The Active Network, imATHLETE, Race Roster, RunSignUp and many individual events. Among the highlights: • In 2017, there were a total of nearly 18.3 million registrants, down just slightly from 18.5 million in 2016. • The majority of runners continued to be women in 2017. Around 59 percent of participants in a given road race are female, while 41 percent are male. • The most popular race distance was the 5K. • These 5K events boasted 8.84

million registrants, claiming 49 percent of all registrants in the nation, while the half-marathon again was second with approximately 11 percent of the finishers. Saucony Challenges

Saucony’s recently launched “Great American Running Store Campaign,” is honoring retailers and local communities by encouraging consumers to “Run Big and Shop Small.” Taking it a step further was a FitRankingspowered digital challenge that placed retailers in a real-time head-to-head competition for miles run from July 11th-July 21st. FitRankings universal platform and technology toolset allowed consumers to select their home store, connect their favorite

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app and and rack up miles. Earlier this year, Saucony used FitRankings technology to run a similar challenge with 170 Fleet Feet Stores. “At Saucony, we are always looking at innovative ways to connect with runners and active people,” says Angus Treloar, director of global marketing for Saucony. “We knew that the platform was a game changer in terms of aggregating all wearable devices into one single hub and allowing us to broaden a challenge, rather than focusing on one single fitness device/app.” Pacers Running, in Washington D.C., participated in the Great A mer ica n Ru n n i ng Stor e Challenge and was also part of a small group of retailers who have begun testing FitRankings

technology solution for retailers. “As an ea rly adopter of FitRankings, we believe it is an indispensable tool for retailers who want to remain relevant in a digital world,” says Kathy Dalby, CEO of Pacers. On Sponsoring Mammoth

Swiss running brand On is now sponsoring the Mammoth Track Club from Mammoth Lakes, CA, in a deal that will run through the end of 2020. The sponsorship agreement includes an annual stipend from On to Mammoth Track Club and appropriate footwear and apparel for training, along with a custom Mammoth Track Club uniform. In addition, On will support Mammoth Track Club’s sponsored road races throughout

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RUNNING INSIGHT

running shorts (continued) the year. Mammoth Track Club has produced 13 Olympians and earned over 30 U.S. individual National Championship titles. “We couldn’t be happier to support the Mammoth Track Club in their athletic efforts,” says On Co-Founder Olivier Bernhard. “We see enormous potential, not only from the team as a whole, but from individual athletes as well.” UA Rebounds in NA

North American grew for the first time in a year for Under Armour, but the company still reported a steep loss in the second quarter after restructuring activities. Among the highlights: • Revenue was up eight percent to $1.18 billion. • Restructuring and impairment charges were $79 million. • Operating loss was $105 million. Adjusted operating loss was $20 million. • Net loss was $96 million. Excluding the impact of the restructuring plan, adjusted net loss was $34 million. • Net revenue for the year is now expected to increase approximately three to four percent. Hoka, Sanuk and Teva Partner with Camber

Hoka One One, Sanuk and Teva, all divisions of Deckers Brands, recently joined Camber Outdoors as a corporate partner. Camber Outdoors works with companies to accelerate equitable and inclusive workplaces so that a diversity of experiences and people drive business success. Founded in 1996 as the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition, Camber Outdoors develops and implements programming to ensure outdoor 24

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companies recruit, attract, develop and retain diverse and top-tier talent to grow inclusive leadership roles and create a stronger, more sustainable industry. “Hoka One One, Sanuk and Teva are thrilled to initiate this partnership with Camber Outdoors, who have demonstrated their commitment to and capacity for bringing women into all levels of the outdoor industry,” says Wendy Yang, president of the three brands. “Deckers is committed to fostering a diverse workforce and ensuring women can succeed and play major leadership roles in our workplace, so partnering with Camber Outdoors was a natural evolution as part of our efforts.”

PUMA ROCKETS INTO 2019 Puma recently introduced its Hybrid Rocket running silhouette, merging its Ignite Foam and NRGY beads to provide both cushioning and energy return, available at Puma.com and at select retailers.

361 Degrees has added Isaac “Ike” Alvear, to its team as head of sales, responsible for overall sales in North America. Alvear has more than 31 years of sales, product and marketing experience in the footwear business with Nike, Asics and, most recently, Hoka One One, where he oversaw the expansion of the brand from 2012 to 2017.

• Record sales of $1.134 billion, an increase of 10.6 percent • Record quarter gross margins of 49.4 percent • International wholesale sales increased 24.9 percent; total international wholesale and retail sales combined represented 51.6 percent of total sales • Company-owned global retail sales increased 12.8 percent, with a comparable same-store sales increase of 4.5 percent worldwide

Skechers Q2 Earnings Down

Brooks Crowns Vetter

361 Degrees Adds Alvear

Skechers USA reported earnings sunk 23.9 percent in the second quarter ended June 30, to $45.3 million, or 29 cents a share. Sales rose 10.6 percent to $1.13 billion. Skechers had warned that quarterly sales would include an expected shift in shipments from the second quarter to the back half of the year for several key international distributors and domestic accounts. Among the second quarter highlights:

Brooks Running has named Thomas Jefferson High School track coach Nicole Vetter the 2018 Brooks Inspiring Coach of the Year for inspiring young runners of all abilities and dedicating herself to teams and causes that support inclusion in running. For more than 22 years, Vetter has made a positive impact on the Council Bluffs, IA, community as a track coach, Special Olympics coordinator and physical education teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School. Vetter has made it

her mission to use sport to teach young runners self-confidence and accountability on and off the track. She shares her passion for fitness with the Council Bluffs Special Olympics community by overseeing nearly 100 middle and high school Special Olympics athletes. As this year’s award winner, Vetter will receive the coveted golden spike trophy, $10,000 in Brooks performance running gear and $2500 cash for team expenses. She will also receive membership into Brooks’ Inspire Daily program and a trip for two to the Brooks PR Invitational. Boston Marathon Raises $36.6 million

There was a lot of good happening during the 2018 Boston Marathon, as participants who ran on behalf of more than 260 non-profit organizations raised $36.6 million for charity. That’s a seven percent increase, or $2.4 million, over 2017’s results. Total funds include $19.2 © 2018 Diversified Communications


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running shorts (continued) million raised through the Boston Athletic Association’s Official Charity Program, $13.1 million raised through John Hancock’s Non-Profit Program, and $4.3 million from other qualified and invitational runners. Most of the fundraising runners gained entry through the B.A.A. and John Hancock programs, which provide nonprofits with guaranteed entries that enable runners to fundraise for their organizations. John Hancock again partnered with CrowdRise to offer an online platform to capture Boston Marathon fundraising. The site showcases all the 2018 partner non-profits and features the personal stories of the runners who supported them.

Getting Buff

Buff, creators of versatile performance headwear for all-season outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, launched its latest UV-protective products, featuring Coolnet UV+, at last week’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver. This product line will be available to consumers nationwide in Spring. Engineered with 100 percent recycled Repreve Performance Microfiber and HeiQ moisture management technology, lightweight Coolnet UV+ lifts sweat away from skin and into the evaporative cooling fabric to keep the wearer cool and dry. Deckers Beats Guidance

Deckers Brands reported that revenues and its loss in the fiscal first quarter ended June 30 easily

beat projected guidance. Sales grew 19.5 percent, led by a 17.6 percent gain for Ugg and a 53.1 percent hike at Hoka One One. Mid-single digit increases were seen for both Teva and Sanuk. “Fiscal year 2019 is off to a solid start, with our first quarter revenue achieving a record high of $251 million,” said Dave Powers, president and chief executive officer. “The Ugg Spring Summer and Hoka One One product offerings drove significant year-over-year sales growth, while Teva also produced solid gains.” Among the highlights: • Net sales increased 19.5 percent to $250.6 million compared to $209.7 million for the same period last year. Operating loss for the company was $39.4

million compared to an operating loss of $56.3 million for the same period last year. • Ugg brand net sales for the first quarter increased 18.9 percent to $136.5 million, compared to $114.7 million for the same period last year. • Hoka O ne O ne bra nd net sales for the first quarter increased 53.1 percent to $47.0 million compared to $30.7 million for the same period last year. • Teva brand net sales for the first quarter increased 6.2 percent to $40.0 million compared to $37.7 million for the same period last year. • Sanuk brand net sales for the first quarter decreased 6.6 percent to $24.4 million compared to $26.2 million for the same period last year. n

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Nominations Now Open for BibRave100 Race Awards The annual list of the 100 best races in America will be presented at the The Running Event in November.

The BibRave 100 is the authoritative list of the 100 best races in America decided by running industry stakeholders and runners. Winners will be announced at an awards luncheon at The Running Event on Wednesday, November 28. “Our relationships across the running industry, including brands, race directors, running industry service providers and, of course, our robust runner community put us in the unique position to incorporate all of those inputs to create the highest quality list of the best races in the country,” saYS BibRave founder Tim Murphy. The BibRave 100 was created last year and Murphy said this year’s program is already drawing great interest. Sponsors for this year’s program include The Running Event, Recover Brands apparel – makers of eco-friendly, 100 percent recycled apparel, and MYLAPS Sports Timing, known for offering the most accurate sports timing and live

performance insights for events around the world. Murphy says other sponsorship opportunities are still available. “We’re working with brands, vendors and industry innovators looking for new ways to engage runners, retailers, and the largest stakeholders in The BibRave 100 — race directors.” Any race can be nominated by any person, and nominations are open through August 5, at https://www.bibrave.com/thebibrave100 After the nomination period, final voting will take place from August 20 through September 9, 2018 in order to rank nominees, the results of which will be combined with scores from a Running Industry Collective to decide the final order of The BibRave 100, Murphy explains. For more information on The BibRave 100, contact Murphy at tim@bibrave.com

Nominations for The BibRave 100 include the following race distances and categories: • The top 20 Marathons • The top 20 Half Marathons • The top 15 10Ks • The top 15 5Ks • Three top-ten lists from the most-commonly cited non-distance categories such as best medals, best T-shirts, best event management, and best scenery. This year’s awards will also include a new category, which celebrates the most environmentally friendly, sustainable races, sponsored by Recover Brands. The 2018 BibRave 100 is sponsored by:

The Running Event 2018

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Running Insight 8.1.18  
Running Insight 8.1.18